AMAC Exclusive By: Seamus Brennan
Seven years after Dave Brat shocked the world by defeating sitting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the future of the Republican Party will once again likely be determined by a debate that is raging right now in the GOP primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District (VA-07). The winner of the contest between establishment candidate Taylor Keeney and outsider Tina Ramirez will take on Democrat incumbent Abigail Spanberger next fall. Spanberger is widely regarded as among the most vulnerable House Democrats in 2022.
The issue that has revealed the sharp divide between the two Republican candidates is the misleadingly titled “infrastructure” bill that was recently passed in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Despite the package’s emphasis on left-wing political projects, 19 Republican Senators voted for it—many of them aligned with McConnell’s “establishment” wing of the part.
Many of these Senate Republicans have faced a sharp backlash from voters back home. Senator Lindsey Graham was censured by the Aiken County Republican Party, which said that Graham “consciously violated the platform of the South Carolina Republican Party.” Senator Deb Fischer was censured by Nebraska’s Hitchcock County GOP, which claimed that she “Violated the basic tenets of her publicly-asserted conservative principles” and “acted contrary to and with disregard for the repeatedly-stated financial concerns of her constituents.”
The Senate Republicans who voted no on the legislation have earned the praise of the conservative grassroots. As Senator Ted Cruz summed up the opposition in a statement, “Too many Republicans just enabled Democrats’ efforts to claim bipartisanship, spend over a trillion dollars, and then ram through their $3.5 trillion liberal wish list of crushing taxes and radical spending.”
As the infrastructure debate is dividing the Republican caucus in the Senate, however, Republican House candidates are having their own nationwide intra-party debate. And nowhere is that debate playing out with higher stakes than between the two candidates vying for the Virginia seat formerly held by Eric Cantor and Dave Brat.
Taylor Keeney, a self-described conservative who once worked for former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and has received his endorsement, recently announced her support for the Democrat legislation that is, in reality, anything but conservative. After initially attempting to withhold her opinion of the package during a recent radio interview, lauding the bill for its “bipartisan” support but refusing to “speculate on votes,” Keeney ultimately admitted—after being pressed—that she supports the bill. “Yes, I would vote for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill,” she said.
Keeney’s primary opponent Tina Ramirez has taken the opposite stance. In an August 11 statement, she lambasted the bill as “Green New Deal initiatives, special interest favors, and other wasteful spending that has nothing to do with infrastructure.” Ramirez continued: “At 2,701 pages, Abigail Spanberger, progressives, & weak-kneed Republicans are embracing the Nancy Pelosi ‘pass it to find out what’s in it’ playbook, and Pelosi has already said that she will use this bill as a Trojan horse to pass trillions more in progressive legislation.”
Calling bipartisan support of the legislation “unacceptable,” Ramirez implored Americans to support only those Republican candidates who “won’t throw their support behind massive spending bills and progressive agendas that they haven’t even read.”
In so doing, Ramirez clearly carved out her stance as the conservative candidate in the primary—and the debate over infrastructure could ultimately prove decisive as to the outcome of that contest. As former President Donald J. Trump wrote in a statement, “It will be very hard for me to endorse anyone foolish enough to vote in favor of this deal.”
Republican leaders like Trump have contempt for the legislation for very good reason – it is a plan for radical social transformation disguised as a plan to build bridges and tunnels.
The infrastructure bill is especially destructive for Congressional districts like the Virginia 7th, which is largely suburban. As USA Today reported in April, the “infrastructure” plan is the latest front in the Democrat’s total war on suburban zoning: “Biden’s proposal would award grants and tax credits to cities that change zoning laws to bolster more equitable access to affordable housing.”
“A house with a white picket fence and a big backyard for a Fourth of July barbecue may be a staple of the American dream,” the article continued, “but experts and local politicians say multifamily zoning is key to combating climate change, racial injustice and the nation’s growing affordable housing crisis.”
The so-called bipartisan “infrastructure” bill advances the Democrat war on suburban communities like the Virginia 7th in several ways. First, the bill includes a provision outlining a “Housing Coordination Plan” that would allow “a metropolitan planning organization serving a transportation management area” to “develop a housing coordination plan that includes projects and strategies that may be considered in the metropolitan transportation plan of the metropolitan planning organization.” The provision goes on to include hot-button progressive terms like “zoning plans” and “housing development,” which makes clear that the bill would open the door to the long-sought Democrat goal of abolishing single family zoning under the guise of a “transportation plan.”
The “infrastructure” package also includes a pilot program for a mileage tax, which would disproportionately burden suburban and rural drivers. Trump administration EPA official Steve Milloy points out that an “additional by-the-mile tax will penalize suburban and rural drivers because of where they live.”
Ultimately, the language of the “infrastructure bill” and the Democrat’ linked budget reconciliation plan paves the way for the urbanization of the suburbs under the Democrat party’s all-encompassing crusades to fight “climate change” and alleged social injustice. As President Trump and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson wrote in an August 2020 Wall Street Journal op-ed, the Democrats’ goal is “to remake the suburbs in their image so they resemble the dysfunctional cities they now govern.” The inclusion of vague housing provisions in the Democrats’ multi-trillion dollar spending bills should be clearly understood as part of their longstanding efforts to abolish the suburbs as we know them.
If Taylor Keeney prevails in the GOP primary race, voters will be asked to choose between two candidates, Spanberger and Keeney, who both support the Democrat infrastructure package and its plans for social transformation. Such an outcome could significantly suppress the conservative vote in the district in November 2022—and should Republicans fail to take out Spanberger, one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House, it will be widely regarded as a huge missed opportunity for the GOP.
The primary campaign in VA-07 is shaping up to be a paradigmatic battle for the soul of the Republican Party going into next year’s midterms. Will the GOP follow the path of President Trump, Ted Cruz, and House candidate Tina Ramirez in opposing left-wing radicalism? Or will the GOP follow the pork-ridden path of Senator Mitch McConnell and the GOP establishment—a path that is accommodating the Democrats in their quest to impose socialist boondoggles on the American people?
Spanberger herself once decried her party’s obsession with “socialism” and far-left policies. Following the 2020 election, Spanberger famously said, “We need to not ever use the words ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again… because while people think it doesn’t matter, it does matter. And we lost good members because of it.” She then issued a blistering warning to her Democrat colleagues: “If we are classifying Tuesday [the 2020 Election Day] as a success from a Congressional standpoint, we will get [expletive] torn apart in 2022.”
Only a few short months following Spanberger’s words of caution, it now appears she is doing everything in her power to make her own fears come true. Let’s just hope Republican voters don’t fall into the same trap.
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